What's Oprah Winfrey's Life-Changing Family Secret?

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Oprah Winfrey may be in the homestretch of her final season on air, but she proved today that she's still got the power to send shockwaves through not only her audience, but the country, revealing her family's long-kept (and shocking) secret.

So what is it?

VIDEO: What did Oprah reveal to Piers Morgan?

Oprah's got a sister!

The bombshell, which Winfrey herself only learned about in November, was disclosed this morning.

A Milwaukee woman named Patricia was revealed to be Oprah's half-sister—through mother Vernita Lee, not father Vernon Winfrey, Oprah was keen to point out—after her mother gave the woman up for adoption shortly after her birth in 1963.

"I thought I'd heard everything," Winfrey said at the show's start. "I thought nothing could surprise me anymore. Just before Thanksgiving, I was given some news that literally shook me to my core.

"There is no way a story like this wouldn't get out in the press and wouldn't get exploited," she said, explaining why she chose to reveal the news on her show. "It is true. I wanted you to hear it from me first."

Patricia's story unspooled like a mystery. She lived in foster homes until the age of 7, and eventually discovered that she had three other siblings. On her adoption documents, it said that her oldest sister lived with her father in Tennessee.

Going through her adoption agency, she sought out her birth mother, whose identity she did not know at the time. After multiple attempts at contact, she was informed that the birth mother did not want to meet her.

Just moments after her second rejection, Patricia was watching television and (talk about your aha moments) at that very minute, an interview with Winfrey's mother Vernita came on. In it, Vernita revealed details about her other two children, Jeffrey and Pat, both of whom had since passed, which matched up with details on Patricia's adoption records. (Bizarrely, Vernita later said that she did not name Patricia before giving her up for adoption...the naming similarity was simply a coincidence.)

"I said, no," Patricia recalled. "I said, that can't be...We realized that Oprah could be my sister."

True it was, however, and after that moment in 2007, Patricia sought out one of Oprah's nieces who ran a nearby restaurant. A DNA test was taken and it came out a positive match.

"Here's how I was told," Oprah said. "They say there's something in the family you need to know about."

After countless back-and-forths on email and numerous rounds of phone tag, "Finally I said to my assistant Libby, what is going on in this family? She says, 'You have a sister.' And I'm like, what? That is how I found out.

"I call my mother, literally confront my mother with this story. 'Is this true, is this true?' She said, 'Oh, yes.' "

So Oprah and her longtime partner Stedman Graham drove up to Milwaukee to spend Thanksgiving dinner with Patricia and her family.

"It was a beloved moment, if you know what I mean," she said. "I'll tell you what is so remarkable about you...it's gonna make me cry, so be patient.

"Since I have been a person known in the public, there have been few times when I've been anywhere and not been sold out…What is so extraordinary is they have known this secret since 2007...She never once thought to go to the press. She never once thought to sell this story."

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